Yeliu’s Rocky Alien World

Our bus drove on for an hour already through a town with slightly depressing views – old, plain looking houses and shops and signages of intimidating chinese characters. The weather has been cold and cloudy, typical of the Taiwan winter climate and this has been going on for days. A slight worry descended upon me and I could feel my stomach churning. I’m afraid I don’t have an idea where we are. Beside me is my father who has been droning me with a travelling toddler’s repetitive question “Are we there yet?”, adding to my silent anxiety. Finally, I was relieved to see the chinese character for Yeliu bus stop and yelled to pull over.

A fishing port sits at the bay going to the geopark.
A fishing port sits at the bay going to the geopark.

I came across with Yeliu particulary the Yeliu cape during my first research for my 1st visit to Taiwan last 2010. But I wasn’t interested yet to visit this place since it’s quite far from Taipei or so I thought until now. Back then, I was amazed at the different rock formations which was shaped by geological movements, erosion wind and water weathering the area. These stone formation have fancy names like “The Fairy Shoe”, “The Bee Hive”, “The Ginger Rocks” and “The Sea Candles”. The most famous formation according to the brochure is the “Queen’s Head” which is shaped like the bust of the Egyptian queen, Nefertiti and this shape has been the town’s logo and iconic landmark. Despite the strong and chilly cold wind slapping on our faces, we were excited what we’re going to see inside the geopark.

A replica of the Queen's head.
A replica of the Queen’s head.

The cape extended longitudinally out onto the sea and is quite a long walk from the hinterland. We passed by a mini-park and replicas of the “Queen’s Head” and “The Cute Princess” which is like a smaller version of the queen’s head. Finally we entered the main entrance of the geopark which stretched from the rocky shore up to head of the cape where a communications tower is perched on its peak. Thousands of rock-like formation which looked like sprouting gigantic porous mushrooms litter all over the area. It’s like having a glimpse of what a moonscape would look like…

The cape extends longitudinally outwards towards the sea.
The cape extends longitudinally outward towards the sea.
Rocky Alien World
Rocky Alien World

And of course, the real “Queen’s Head” sits among them where you need to queue up for picture taking. We did not bother to do that. Alert lifeguards are constantly on the look out for hard-headed tourists who veered too much along the coastline. A strong rouge wave might wash them off from the edge. We did not ventured further to the tip of the cape since our faces were all numb-cold so we headed towards the exit.

Deadly waves crash onto the rocks.
Deadly waves crash onto the rocks.
View of the mainland
View of the mainland

A brightly lit seafood market place welcomed us as we came out from the exit and we all marvelled at dried seafood being sold which is an “art” of seafood preservation. One of the delicacies that we really loved are the preserved anchovies, sun-dried and sugar-caramelled, coated with seasame seeds and nori bits. It is slightly sweet and salty with a punch of the exotic flavor of nori (bits of dried sea weed). There were also larger fish versions which are quite bony but the amazing is, their bones are also edible – crunchy and sweet just like the fish meat and everything else. There were also jewelry, the usual souvenir key chains and ref magnets but we did not pay attention to them since our tongues are busy sampling every preserved food that was offered to us. An 1-jin (500grams) only costs 100NTD (140PHP) and if you buy quite a number of packs the vendors are very glad to give you extra.

Yeliu Souvenir Market
Yeliu Souvenir Market

Before we went back to Taipei, we had lunch at a seafood restaurant just outside the entrance of the geopark. My parents were delighted of the freshness of the seafood. As we were hiking back to the main road, sun was already peeking behind the clouds. So much to look forward as the bus rolled on back to Taipei.

Directions

1. Head to Taipei West Bus Terminal A and look for the bus heading to Yeliu 野柳. Note that the bus terminal is NOT the bigger train station which is just beside it. It is a small terminal that looks quite run down. There are two terminals A and B. Look for the one that says A.

2. Bus fare is around NTD$96 and the journey will take around 90 – 120 minutes, depending on the traffic. Tell the driver to alight at Yeliu and always look out for the bus stop with the sign 野柳. It would be on the right side, so better pick up a seat on that area.

3. At the bus stop there is a road on the left, walk straight around 10-15 minutes to the geopark entrance. You’ll pass by fishing vessels and a huge temple.

4. Going back to Taipei: Walk towards the same bus stop where you left and walk across the street. Wait for the bus going to Taipei 台北. Or better, before going back to the bus stop, look for the visitor’s information booth in the geopark entrance and ask the staff to write down for you the number of the bus which will take you back to Taipei. The bus usually finally stops at the parking lot of Taipei Main Station.

Hordes of tourists even during winter.
Hordes of tourists even during winter.

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